More than a hundred evacuees from Gaza, most requiring urgent medical treatment, are arriving in Türkiye. The group of sixty-one patients are being airlifted to Ankara from Cairo, having left Gaza on Sunday evening accompanied by relatives.
This is the second such transfer of seriously ill Gazans to Türkiye for medical help.
Twenty seven Palestinians, most suffering from cancer, arrived last Thursday and have since been transferred to the specialist treatment center at Bilkent City hospital. Türkiye’s ruling AK party has pledged to take up to a thousand patients from the region, where medical facilities have been severely damaged by the ongoing Israeli bombardment.
Meanwhile, attempts to evacuate Turkish and Turkish Cypriot nationals, trapped in Gaza, are also continuing. Forty-four individuals entered Egypt on Saturday during a brief opening of the Rafah border crossing.
Türkiye has pledged to take a greater diplomatic role in ending the violence in Gaza. Prior to the Hamas attacks on October the seventh, Ankara had been pursuing a normalization process in its relations with Israel after years of disharmony. Turkish President Erdogan met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the fringes of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September, and extended an invite for him to visit Ankara.
But Türkiye’s alleged ties with Hamas have proved a stumbling block for Israel, which accuses the Turkish Republic of offering sanctuary to some of the group’s most senior figures.
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“No debt” to Israel
However, since the start of the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, rhetoric on both sides has hardened with Erdogan describing Israel as a “terror state” that had promoted “fascism.”
The divide between European leaders and Ankara over events in Gaza was evident this week, on a visit by the Turkish leader to Berlin. Speaking alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Erdogan said of his country “We have no debt to Israel. If that were the case, then perhaps we wouldn’t be able to talk so easily. Nor have we gone through the history of the Holocaust.” Israel has withdrawn its diplomats from Türkiye, it says, in order to “reassess relations.”
On his return from Berlin, Erdogan said he had been contacted by the families of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas to help secure their release. Whilst adding that Türkiye was seeking a role in rebuilding infrastructure in Gaza once a ceasefire was achieved, he added that Turkish intelligence officials were examining the appeal by the relatives of those held captive.
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